Is there a fire? How big? Where is it going?
When it comes to fighting fast-moving wildfires, information is key, and until recently data from the sky had to wait.
In the past, an air crew was dispatched to fly over the blaze, capture images and report back – soaking up crucial time as firefighters on the ground had to battle for a while without the vital data.
But now a small plane equipped with a state-of-the-art camera and a satellite sits at the ready at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, poised to deliver real-time infrared video and photos to decision-makers on the ground – in seconds.
Right to firefighters’ cell phones.
The Beechcraft King Air 200 is staffed around the clock. An identical plane sits in Sacramento, though it is primed to go up only 12 hours a day.
Between them, they can cover the entire state, each capable of hustling to a fire at 260-miles per hour, meaning the trip takes 45 minutes tops.